“The Boy From Bethany” March 25, 2018
“The Boy From Bethany”
Mark 11:1-11/ John 12:12-16
Hi there- my name is Yoseph. I am 10 years old and live in the little town of Bethany. Now Bethany is not so bad a place, I guess, except we have a lot of sick people. My dad says they won’t let them live in Jerusalem, so they bring them out here. The Essenes have built some places for the really poor people to live, too. I like the Essenes. They’re not so bossy like the Pharisees. A lot of people come through our little town, especially folks coming from Galilee. I think they travel down the east side of the river so they don’t have to go through where the Samaritans live. They don’t like the Samaritans- I don’t know why. Lately, there’s been a lot of people traveling through, what with the Passover celebration and all. I like to sneak over where they are staying and just, you know, hang out. That’s the good thing about being a kid: no one pays any attention to you and if you stay out of the way you get to listen to their stories and the way that some of them talk funny. My mom says as long as I’m home before dark and stay out of trouble, then it’s OK. My trouble started, though, when Jesus of Nazareth came to Bethany.
It wasn’t just Jesus, though. He had a bunch of men and women with him, and even though I’m just a kid, I could tell there was something special about him. He wasn’t like the rest of the adults. He laughed – a lot – and he even smiled and said hello to me. Now that was different! Every day they went into Jerusalem and I begged to follow them into town, but I had too many chores around the house and Dad wouldn’t let me go. But I heard stories. I heard that on the first day, somebody brought out a little donkey and this Jesus of Nazareth rode on that little donkey through the East Gate into Jerusalem and the people cheered and hooted and hollered “Hosanna, hosanna,” and they threw their coats and palm branches on the road for Jesus to ride on. Boy, I wish I could have seen that. They next day, I heard that Jesus went to the temple and flipped the money changers’ tables upside down saying something like, “My house that should be a house of prayer has been turned into a den of robbers.” That would have been something to see. I bet he made a lot of people really mad.
The next day, Jesus stayed in Bethany longer than usual and I was glad about that. He and his disciples were at Simon the Leper’s house and even though I wasn’t supposed to go over there, I snuck through the fence and was staying out of sight when the weirdest thing happened. Everyone was laying around the table just talking, when this woman showed up with a flask made out of alabaster, it looked to me, and without even a how-de-do she busted it open and poured the whole thing full of nard on Jesus’ head. I couldn’t believe it! This was oil of nard; the good stuff. It would take my father a whole year to make enough money to buy that much, but she poured it on his head like it was nothing.
It smelled really good, but there were some of the old grumps who started carping about what a shame it was to waste all that expensive oil; that they could have sold it instead and given the money to the poor. But Jesus stood up for her. He said, and I remember this, “Leave her alone. She has done a beautiful thing to me. For you always have the poor with you, and whenever you want you can always do good for them. But you will not always have me.” Boy, you should have seen the looks on their faces. I mean, this is Bethany after all: a town full of sick people and poor people. But I couldn’t figure out what he meant by “you will not always have me.” I just know that it made me sad.
The next day I heard them talking about having the Passover meal in Jerusalem in some room Jesus knew about, and that’s when I decided. That’s when I decided I was going to sneak into Jerusalem. If I did it right, my parents might not even miss me. After all, if I ran I could make it home in less than an hour. So that’s what I did. But by the time I found them, it was really late and I knew I was in big trouble, but I didn’t care. I found them coming down from this upper room and were heading for a place called Gethsemane. “Now that’s weird,” I thought. “Why would they be going up there this late at night?” And I noticed, too, that Jesus wasn’t laughing so much any more and seemed kind of sad. Anyway, Jesus took his twelve guys to Gethsemane – except I only counted 11 of them – and when they got there he told them to keep watch, but they did a lousy job. They kept falling asleep. I couldn’t figure what was the big deal; why’d they have to keep watch anyhow. But then the soldiers showed up and things got even weirder. The 12th guy – they called them disciples – came up with the soldiers, walked right up to Jesus, and kissed him so I figured everything was all right. Boy, was I wrong! The soldiers then grabbed Jesus and one of the disciple guys pulled a sword and cut off the soldier’s ear. Everybody was hollering and yelling and it looked bad; really bad. But Jesus stayed calm. I’ve never seen anything like it. He said, “Have you come out as against a robber, with swords and clubs to capture me? 49 Day after day I was with you in the temple teaching, and you did not seize me.” Then he said something I didn’t understand at first. He said, “Let the scriptures be fulfilled.” I didn’t quite understand, but when all his disciples ran away, I decided I would stick with him. I decided I would stick with Jesus, but when one of the guards spotted me, he chased me down and grabbed my linen cloth and it just came off in his hands. I ran away with no clothes on at all and I’m sure glad it was dark because that would have been awful.
Anyway, one of those disciples lent me some clothes and I figured I better go home and face the music. Funny thing is, when I told my dad all the things that had happened he wasn’t mad at all. The next day I saw my dad outside and he was crying. You know, I don’t think I’ve ever seen my dad cry, but he was crying then. Now I felt really bad. I just knew that I had done some kind of a terrible thing and that’s what made my dad cry, but when I asked, he just looked at me and said, “They’ve crucified our Lord. They’ve crucified our Lord.” And all of a sudden, I knew what Jesus was talking about when he said, “But you will not always have me.”
The next couple of days were awful. Everyone in town was walking around in a daze. But you know what? I got to thinking. I got to thinking that sure, we’re going to be sad for a while – but then what? Do we just stay sad and mad until we end up being mean all the time? Is that what we want? Would Jesus want that? I don’t think so. And I got to thinking of when he said, “For you always have the poor with you, and whenever you want you can always do good for them.” And you know what, I think that’s what I want. And what a better place to want to do good for the sick and the poor than in this little town of Bethany, the place that I call home.
Thank you for indulging me. Palm Sunday can be a bit of a dilemma. It is the day that we celebrate Christ’s triumphant entrance in Jerusalem. But it is also the beginning of Holy Week, when the Son of God stood before his accusers and he never said a mumbling word in order that the scriptures be fulfilled. I only wanted to tell the story through a different set of eyes. May the week to come be rich and full of meaning, and may God’s presence be upon you as we prepare for his glorious resurrection.
Amen & Shalom